One Somersault Forward for Beach Fossils
Beach Fossils are back in a big way after a four-year release hiatus, with their third full-length album, Somersault. Released on frontman Dustin Payseur’s record label Bayonet, this album starts a new chapter for Beach Fossils’ classically reverb-slicked indie rock sound. The addition of string and horn textures to their typical aesthetic catapults Beach Fossils out of the post-punk territory in which they resided for their previous LP, Clash the Truth.
Tracks like “This Year” and “Sugar” sound pretty straightforward and mellow, but the rich string section adds a layer of sound that gives them more depth. Payseur’s vocals remain soft and reverb-heavy on dreamy tracks like “Tangerine,” which also features Rachel Goswell of Slowdive, in a sighing yet hopeful chorus. In this lush track, we’re also given a full set of strings that gives it a swaying, full feel. “Saint Ivy” is unexpected in its retro, Beatles-influenced vibe. “Don’t believe in Jesus / heaven knows I’m wasting my time / wanna believe in America / but it’s someplace I can’t find,” Payseur sings in the ’60s-inspired track, discouraged by the post-election results. The track fades into a musical outro complete with jazz flute, lush strings and a simple guitar solo statement. “May 1st” is charmingly jangly with a relatively simple melody, this time adding harmony in the verses. The carefree vibe of this song is felt as Payseur sings, “The sun goes down / time rolls on.” However, the dreamiest part of the whole album is found in the simple yet stunning layered guitar jam finale, which leads directly into “Rise,” switching gears smoothly to a jazz/hip-hop vibe featuring spoken word from Gavin Mays — rather unexpected from a Beach Fossils track. “Sugar” doesn’t quite stand out as much as the rest, but it again utilizes clear lead guitar melodies and strings in the background. Bringing in that ’60s sound again is the harpsichord opening on “Closer Everywhere.” Another tasty jam session closes out this track, so be sure to stick around until the end.
However, the slow, soft, heart-throbbing “Social Jetlag” is a true standout; adding cascading piano accompaniment paired with glissando flutes and devastating lyrics like, “Can we start all of our time over again?” it is simply chill-inducing. “Down the Line” is one of the most upbeat tracks on the album and is another memorable number. While it doesn’t feature any added strings or flutes, the sliding, hazy guitars and key-changing chorus will have you singing along, “These days I feel like I do nothing right / so come with me and we’ll go down the line,” feeling every last word. “Be Nothing” is yet another incredible, somber track that starts out slow and familiar before breaking out into a headbang-worthy, screeching and driving jam session. “That’s All For Now” closes the album on a light note with the message, “Keep moving on / that’s all for now.”
While Clash the Truth was a super successful indie/post-punk album, Somersault is equally successful in its own way. While the vocals are slightly higher, the guitars hazier, the drumbeat more distant, the sound fuller, the vibe a little more hi-fi, it’s undeniably Beach Fossils’ sound evolution that the listener is experiencing. The group’s latest album proves that musical maturity can in fact come in somersault form.